UK Home Office Exploring Mobile, Biometric Passport Technology Through New Contract

UK Home Office Exploring Mobile, Biometric Passport Technology Through New ContractA major new government contract in the UK suggests authorities in the country are moving toward biometrics-driven, mobile-based identity solutions for travellers.

The UK Home Office awarded the contract to WorldReach Software, an Ottawa-based firm offering a platform called “Know Your Traveller”. The platform is designed to facilitate remote identity verification through a smartphone app, leveraging ePassport chip reading technology as well as facial recognition combined with liveness detection.

In other words, it’s the kind of selfie-based mobile authentication concept that is now so popular in the financial services sector, but tailored to border screening and travel applications.

In a statement announcing the contract, WorldReach Software did not disclose its financial terms, but indicated that it covers “an initial period of two years plus two additional option years to support the EU Exit Settlement Scheme.” The company also indicated that previous pilot projects undertaken with Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency helped to make the case for the KYT platform.

While it’s not yet clear what tangible results this collaboration will deliver in terms of travel to and from the UK, it appears to reinforce two major trends. One is the ascent of biometric border screening and traveller processing, and the other is the rise of mobile-based citizen ID. And in seeking to work with WorldReach Software and its KYT platform, the UK government appears to be exploring both areas at once.